Desirable World, Desirable Objects

A couple of years ago I have introduced the term “world of performance”. This refers to a tendency of behaviours and shared values in the contemporary (post)modern people, especially among youths. I argue that performance, in its general meaning, is the ultimate orientation concerned by youths. For them, the essential thing is no longer the substance of activities, things, or ideas. However, the performative traits of every activity and idea are more essential to them.

It is no wonder, then, to see and witness many “performative efforts” through several instruments both in direct or mediated forms. Gestures, fashion, technological-based gadgets, and chosen public spaces are the “mode of delivery” in showing their performance. This leads to the world of performance where every aspect, e.g. body and space, becomes the arena of contestation in performing the self, as well as the identity. As a kind of “mode of delivery”, I would say, all these contested arenas can be associated as the media in its general meaning, let alone its essential one.

Today, having sitting all day long in one luxurious coffee shop in Jogja (Yogyakarta), I witnessed the embodied world of performance once again. Just right before I leave the coffee shop after a last sip of my latte, I come up with two new insights.

First, the performative efforts are no longer a specific arena of youths. More, and more, adults (young adults till mature people) take part in this performance-oriented world. They are even more proactive – for not using the term aggressive – in showing their performative efforts through everything they wear or own and the way they act. This leads me to a deeper realisation that the world we live in is basically a desirable milieu. We have been “forced” to responding this desirable world through desirable objects we can perform. This is my second insight.

The performative efforts are the media to create desirable objects in which we can feel comfort and safe in this so-called desirable world. Having said this, taking part in performance-oriented efforts is an attempt to avoid personal and social anxiety while, at the same time, to show our identity (i.e. ideal self). Is it only an unconvincing apologetic? Or, has the world we live in altered so dramatically that make us responding in such way? Well, I leave the answer to you.

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